We all must find ways to tell our stories, as best we can, in the ways that we can, at the times when we feel the strength to do it - but with a deep understanding that they matter. All of them.
No matter how small we feel or how unique we believe our struggles to be or how fearful we are to expose our vulnerabilities, someone out there feels small, feels isolated, and is afraid to be themselves because no one would understand their story - a story like ours.
This is the reality of the human story writ large and is the potency of the human story writ small. Far more connects us than separates us. Someone needs to hear our story so they can own and share theirs.
This week, I went to a fundraiser for and watched a documentary called Invisible: Gay Women in Southern Music. It chronicles the stories of a surprisingly large number of wildly successful and talented gay women in mostly country music over the last several decades - women who have written countless number one songs, women brimming with vocal and musical talent, and women who have had to hide who they are to do the work they love and to share their gift with the world.
I went in to the event knowing it would be an interesting story - just the immediate dissonance that comes to my mind as a Nashville native and a “son of the South” between the idea of gay women and country music is compelling.
But, the film and the stories were so much more than I could have imagined. As I sat and listened to these women, as I laughed and cried with them and wondered at their talent and sacrifice and bravery, as I grew angry at the misogyny they have endured and the injustice that has forced their personal and career directions and taken away their individual rights and opportunities, as I heard their individual stories, each unique, I found myself deeply connecting with all of them.
Let me be clear: we have seemingly nothing in common. I don’t listen to country music. I don’t play any instruments or write music. I couldn’t sing on key if I were paid. I am not gay, and I am a man.
Their stories and lives moved me because I was reminded in a very intimate way that there are people like these women, hidden in places I never even think about, right here in my home town, who have worked and lived and endured daily in ways that I will never know. Their strength, their survival, their courage, and now their sharing of their personal stories will forever forward be a light in my being. They can never again be invisible to me, and those who still feel invisible are hopefully somehow less so.
And, it’s not just about them, or me. These women who I had never heard of, never thought of, and otherwise would never have known - except for this documentary - have spent invisible lives quietly making my world a little closer to the one I actually want to live in. Most importantly to me at this stage in my life, they have made the world that much safer for my daughters to grow up in.
I am indebted to them and deeply grateful.
I can thank my friend Bill Brimm whose idea it was to encourage these artists to share their stories. But, to merely thank these women somehow doesn’t feel right. It’s not enough. It’s an embarrassment of my privilege and the relative ease with which the world has presented itself to me.
And yet, it’s also all I have.
So, let me thank them anyway - and really all of you who are reading this as well. Thank you for your story. Thank you for your art. Thank you for your willingness to share them.
Thank you for your courage and resilience.
Thank you for refusing to be invisible so that others may also see and be seen.
I hope you will consider donating to help this important film make it to a broader audience.
Please visit: https://www.outhausfilms.com/